NAME: Claudia Renner

BUSINESS NAME: Fairmont Blue Mountains Resort

POSITION: Associate director of events

What are you working on right now in anticipation of a return of events?

We have an enormous amount of unique event spaces at Fairmont Resort & Spa and we have been working with our F&B team creating new and exciting menus and dining options based on Covid guidelines of course. [We have also been undertaking] Marketing campaigns on the Blue Mountains region, promoting our local suppliers that had such a tough year… so YES you can come out of COVID isolation and “come up for air”. We have also been revising our event contracts, floor plans for all our 15 conferencing spaces in accordance with the social distancing guidelines.

Our in- house production team are taking the opportunity to do extensive maintenance & upgrades on all of our AV equipment.

Our in-house AV team are also working on options for hybrid style meetings.  This would include an onsite meeting component in our unique auditorium with video conferencing participation from delegations in other states.  FMRs auditorium is a unique space and this option is receiving interest.

Processes & procedures in line with Covid guidelines Accor ALLSafe are also being undertaken, ensuring our conference delegates journey will still be a great experience during these uncertain times.

What’s one lesson you have learnt during the COVID-19 lockdown period?

Hmm… now more than ever we need to be talking to our clients – it is amazing and I love when we can talk through a challenging situation open and honestly and come to a solution that works for both sides. To keep in constant contact with our valued customers, and always show empathy, understanding, flexibility and continue to offer the solutions… we are all in this together.

What do you value more now than you may have pre-COVID-19?

Far too many things come to mind!  Amazing Aussies!  Our healthcare workers & frontline people, health of family, friends & colleagues… The beautiful country in which we live, amazing destinations in our own backyards don’t go offshore to conference please  – the true genuine connections that came about on a much deeper level with clients when we all found ourselves faced with the same challenge.

How do you think events will change in the future?

With the unprecedented use of video conferencing during Covid, the number of platforms will increase while the cost will come down.   I believe businesses will appreciate how imperative it is for face to face conferencing, so moving forward post-COVID, events will be even more exciting and beneficial. Also having walked through the CBD only a few days ago I noticed how many large office spaces are available for lease already and numerous articles in the press point in the same direction that in many industries – Monday to Friday 9-5 in the office is over.

We cannot underestimate how much human beings crave and need face to face connections. As we know in events the new ideas, projects and initiatives that come from colleagues meeting are what truly drive companies and individuals alike. As people work more and more from home I believe the company getaway conference will become more regular and the Blue Mountains is the perfect spot to do this of course.

I think larger events may be broken into a series of micro events due to risk management. In Australia we will have some exciting incentive groups stay onshore next year. And, hello night conferencing! I am currently working on an event with a team that needs to meet through the night to work virtually with their team in Europe.

Why are events important? 

Networking is so important, learning and development and delivering the strategic business messages, reward & recognition and most importantly FUN!